Thursday, February 16, 2012

Murder? OR Mr. Boody is Dead, Which One of You Did it? Oh Wait, It's ME!

This week for Not In Candyland, we're talking Clue, or Cluedo for the Brits among us.

I write this with the disclaimer that Clue was and is still my favorite mass market game, I even went to a character night as Mr. Boody, it was easy, white dress shirt, black bow tie, jacket, dress pants.  But I digress.

Clue is the classic who done it game.  Essentially it's a race to figure out who did it, what they used, and where the murder took place.  Now, the fact that you don't know where the murder took place, yet you have a body is odd, as well as the fact that your character can be the murderer and you don't even know it.  Those bits aside, it still is a reasonable deduction game.

I like the aspect of figuring out what's missing from the deck.  You have to use the cards in your hand to help do that, but you have to be careful because everyone else hears your suspicions, meaning if something goes around the table with no response they know either you have those cards, or that is the set of mystery items.  When I first played the game it was all about me figuring things out, but then I learned to pay attention to what everyone else was asking.  I started to notice patterns with what people asked and I was eventually able to figure out what they had in their hand.

I won't go too much into the strategy behind clue, since that eliminates some of the fun.  Also, my ideas are by no means perfect, but I do tend to win a fair bit.  What I have noticed is that players spend most of their turns rolling dice and not making a room.  I think an improvement to the game would be to make sure players could go to a room each turn.  As the board is now, some rooms are much harder to get to, i.e. Kitchen, Billiard Room, and others are easy.  The secret passageways do help movement, but it leads to clumping of characters.  It's also annoying when someone suspects you, forcing you into a room you don't want to be in, so you have to start your trek all over again.  The other thing is that sometimes luck hits on the first turn and a player knows one or two parts of the case, which isn't much fun for everyone else.  I've never seen a one turn win, but I know it's possible.

What's to Like?

  • Good introduction to deduction games
  • Plays up to 6 people
  • Simple rules
  • Short playtime
What's not to Like?
  • Luck with movement
  • Too much luck in terms of guessing clues
  • Location being determined by other players
Overall, I like Clue for what it is. There are better mystery games out there, which I'll get to in a moment, but Clue has a unique blend of fun and simplicity with a good logic challenge.

If you like Clue, but you're looking for a more in depth game, here's some options (with links to the Boardgamegeek pages).
  • Code 777 - this is more of a logic game with numbers, but it also has deduction aspects.
  • Mystery of the Abby - a clue-like game where the deduction comes from figuring out which Monk is missing by asking careful question. This is Out of Print, but worth playing if you have it or know someone who does.
  • Mystery Express - the game that replaced MoaB in DOW catalog. It takes the what's missing and twists it so there are two copies of each card, and players have to figure out which card exists only once in each category.  It's not perfect, but it is fun every once in awhile.

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